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They look striking and otherworldly but lava tends to be the least dangerous part of volcanic eruptions. People have been burnt and lost more than a few rubber soles to lava but it moves slowly, so it rarely kills. Property is much more at risk of devastation by lava. It can bury cars and burn homes, destroying virtually everything unable to run from it.
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Lava is molten rock, composed of crystals, volcanic glass, and bubbles of volcanic gases. It is a cooled-down version of magma. (The cooling is what leads to the formation of crystals, glass, and bubbles.) Depending on the pressure it's under, lava can breach the surface in different ways. Sometimes it will erupt, other times a less dramatic oozing occurs. Generally, lava is found where tectonic plates meet.
Fires resulting from lava can be devastating and, in a large eruption, hardened boulders of lava can cause serious destruction. However, the greatest dangers from volcanoes tend to be their pyroclastic density currents - fast-moving clouds of pulverized rock, ash, and hot gases - and toxic gases.
Read more about lava:
Geology.com Volcanic Hazards
Michigan Tech: Lava Flows